Watson can join elite company by winning year's first two majors

U.S. OPEN * 9 A.M. THURSDAY * TV: ESPN

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PINEHURST, N.C. -- Bubba Watson has one thing going for him: So far, nobody else has a better chance at winning a second major this year.

"I've already got one," he quipped Tuesday.

Watson, a two-time Masters champion, came to Pinehurst No. 2 this week for the U.S. Open hoping to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the season's first two majors.

"Any time you have that chance, it's been a good year, because that means you've done well early," Watson said.

The world's third-ranked player is trying to join that short list of players to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year. It's only happened six times and before Woods, nobody had done it since Jack Nicklaus in 1972.

Watson is certainly hoping this attempt goes better than the previous shot. Two years ago at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, he missed the cut after shooting an 8-over78 in his opening round.

Through the years, the Open has provided a particularly vexing test for Watson, who has missed the cut in three of his seven Opens. His only top-10 finish came in 2007 when he tied for fifth at Oakmont -- perhaps the toughest course which has staged golf's national championship.

"A U.S. Open brings out challenges that we're not used to, challenges that we can only take once a year or we would all find new jobs if we had to do it every week," Watson said.

Restroom gives way to a tee

As if Pinehurst No. 2 wasn't difficult enough already, there is a new tee on the par-3 sixth hole that plays about 240 yards. USGA executive director Mike Davis said it likely will be used twice this week. Oddly enough, the new tee was not part of the plans except for the removal of a bathroom.

Bob Dedman, chairman of the company that owns Pinehurst, never liked the brick bathroom behind the sixth tee and had it removed. Davis was at the golf course doing advance work when the absence of the bathroom gave him a different view. And he liked it. All the par 3s are roughly the same distance. This gave Davis options in setting up the course.

"If you look back at '99 and '05," he said of the two previous U.S. Opens at Pinehurst, "they were using the same clubs all four rounds. So two days we're going to play it back, and then one day we'll go 50 yards forward and use a front hole location"

Major-less

Matt Kuchar hasn't contended in enough majors to be in the group of "best to have never won a major." He has had two good chances at the Masters. Even so, he is No. 5 in the world with seven PGA Tour wins, including a World Golf Championship, The Players Championship and a FedEx Cup playoff event. And he's had more top 10s than anyone over the last three years. Either way, he doesn't mind it.

"If you haven't won a major, you sure want to be a part of that conversation," he said. "But certainly, it's been a goal of mine. It's been a goal of mine since I started playing the game. So it remains there."


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